I thought I knew football under Jurgen Klopp – but Pep Guardiola and Man City changed everything

It’s the end of an era at Anfield on Sunday. Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp will stand next to each other on the touchline for the final time in the Premier League.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola reacts the last time the Blues faced Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium

Klopp is leaving Liverpool at the end of the season, with half of Merseyside desperate to sign him off with a second Premier League title. Manchester City and Guardiola are probably the most likely side who can stop that happening, and City want to make history with a fourth-successive Premier League title and potential double treble.

There is far more than three points on offer this weekend, with the legacies of both managers on the line in some respect. The build-up will also draw the inevitable comparisons between Guardiola and Klopp – although it’s fair to say only five players are able to truly compare how the two elite coaches work.

Incredibly, just five have played under both Klopp and Guardiola. World Cup winner Mario Gotze and Poland striker Robert Lewandowski moved from Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund to Guardiola’s Bayern Munich, while Thiago Alcantara and Xherdan Shaqiri played for Guardiola at Bayern before later moving to Liverpool under Klopp.

Then there is City legend Ilkay Gundogan, who was Guardiola’s first captain after a stellar spell at Dortmund under Klopp. Gundogan has always been full of praise for Klopp, but has made his feelings towards Guardiola clear over the years.

“Before I joined Man City I thought ‘I know football’,” Gundogan told ESPN last year after leaving City. “I was 25, 26 years old so I thought I’ve seen a lot, I’ve won league titles, cup titles.

“But now, standing here after seven years of Pep’s school, I probably would say I didn’t know anything about football before. His influence, not just on the team, also on me personally, was just immense. The aspects, the little details of the game that he has taught me and showed to us I think is very special.”

Expanding on the difference between the two managers, Gundogan told Turkish TV channel Tivibu Spor in 2022 that Klopp’s man-management made him stand out as a coach. “When I came to Dortmund at the age of 20, I had an adaptation problem. The first six months were tough for me,” he said.

“But Klopp helped me because he treated his players like a father figure, like a friend. He was always with me, gave me confidence. I spent five successful years with him. I became a national player. I started working with [Joachim] Low. Then I had an incredible season with [Thomas] Tuchel in Dortmund. Then I had the opportunity to work with Guardiola.

“As I have always been a fan of Guardiola, I always wanted to work with him. In 2016, the opportunity arose and we had a phone call with him. We talked, we argued, and I finally came to Manchester City. I have been very happy here for five-six years. I am very happy with Pep, even my neighbour himself. He is a coach who has given me a lot. I am very satisfied with the coaches I have worked with so far.”

When leaving City last summer, Gundogan made sure to personally thank Guardiola for his support and guidance during his seven years at the Etihad.

“One of the hardest calls I had to make was to Pep, telling him that I was going to leave. All I could do was to say thank you,” he wrote in the Player’s Tribune.

“Not just for this season, or for all the trophies, but for bringing me here in the first place. I will never forget when I hurt my knee at the end of the season with Dortmund and I had to get surgery, I was so worried that City would pull out of the deal for me.

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